Today: Apr 21, 2024

Contest winners reflect on accomplishments

From left to right: Jared Coffin, Kiah Smith, Amanda Gamache and Madelyn Downer.

The winners of the Southern Fiction Contest read their work in front of 32 people
last Wednesday in Engleman’s English Common Room.
Writer of fiction since he was eight years old and poetry since 16, first place winner with his story “Making it,” Jared Coffin, junior English major, said it is tough to think about what exactly inspires him to write.
“Really in life anything can inspire me,” said Coffin, “usually it’s different events that inspire me.”
For the story “Making it,” Coffin said he knew he wanted to write about someone going away and tried to imagine a sibling’s life when separated from every other. The story takes place after September 11, 2001, when a brother’s older sibling decides to join the military and go off to war. “Making
it” intertwines the concept of death and what is death through the narrated character of the younger brother.
Coffin said he was “psyched” when he found out he won the contest. He entered the contest last year and he received an honorable mention.
“In just the one year time span I feel like my writing really progressed, so it was just a great honor,” said Coffin.
Amanda Gamache, senior English major, won a tied spot for second place with her story “A true tale of vomiting on Easter and all that comes after it.” Gamache said her inspiration for writing comes from true events that happened personally to her and her family.
“It’s not nonfiction, because it’s based loosely off of my life,” said Gamache.
Timothy Parish, English professor and Gamache’s thesis adviser, told her about the contest which she said was posted all around the English department’s walls, as it is every year. She said she wrote the story last semester. Even though she won second place, Gamache said she still wants to work on the story and improve it, because the purpose of writing the story was not solely for the contest, but for her.
“I was excited to win,” said Gamache. “I entered the contest a couple of years ago and won first place, so I was kind of arrogant
and was expecting something, but I was very happy.”
Gamache’s story is exactly about what the title says. In a humorous way, she narrates
a story about getting sick one Easter while gathering with her “crazy” family,
and ends up with a lifelong obsessive compulsive disorder with vomiting, but goes through the journey to overcome the disorder.
“The Edge of the City” written by Kiah Smith, junior English major, tied in second place with Gamache. Writing the draft of the story for her fiction class Smith said she had a hard time, but she liked the environment that she created.
The story is about the relationship of two characters working in the constructional
development business in the “edge of a city” where it is a desert.
“I picked something that sounded interesting to me,” said Smith, “which is the desert and I worked with that and the story came out of nowhere.”
Smith said she got into writing in college
with the courses she had taken, but before that she had not written much. She did not know about the contest until after she turned in the first draft for her class. She said her professor encouraged her to keep going and revise the draft to be submitted.
“I was surprised,” said Smith. “I didn’t think I would win anything, because I didn’t think it was that great.”
Madelyn Downer, senior English major, won third place with her story “Blue Shoes.” Downer said she draws inspiration for writing by looking at what’s important to her, such as the wondering questions of life.
“For this story I was thinking about getting older, because I just turned 24 when I wrote it and I just wanted to explore the transition from youth to growing
up, because you can’t stop it,” said Downer. “It’s something you lose without realizing it.”
“Blue Shoes” is about a vibrant young woman in the city who owns one pair of blue shoes. One day she lost one and had to go buy a new pair, but the shoe store only had gray loafers, like the ones she described as “something mother would wear.” Her personality changed after that day, connecting to the change of life when growing up.
Downer started writing fiction this semester, but she has been writing poetry since she was a senior in high school. She said she was surprised when she found out that she won third place.
“I didn’t even read the e-mail, it was actually Jared posting on my wall congratulations
and I was like what are you talking
about,” said Downer. “I was shocked, because my teacher just said enter this contest.”

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